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Base station antennas: The advantages of polarization diversity . . . . . .

and how the new PQR standard improves network performance

Youre hearing a lot about the advantages of polarization diversity antennas over spatial diversity antennas, especially in urban environments. Soon you will hear about a new Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) standard, Polarization Quality Ratio (PQR), that will directly impact the performance of your network. A polarization diversity antennas PQR is a factor affecting diversity gain. It influences the ultimate performance improvement you can expect an antenna to give your system. By specifying the cross-polar discrimination value of most concern for an antenna, this one measurement gives you an easily identifiable worst case number and eliminates the tedious examination of antenna patterns to determine a worst case scenario. Best of all, an understanding of the PQR standard will help you choose antennas that improve reception by as much as 5 dB in some cases. Polarization vs. spatial diversity in urban environments Polarization diversity, or cross-polarized, base station antennas are quickly displacing spatial diversity systems. Instead of spacing two vertically polarized receive antennas up to 20 wavelengths apart per sector on the site, a polarization diversity system integrates two receive antennas into one physical housing under one radome. Like spatial diversity systems, polarization diversity antennas reduce the effects of multipath fading. But unlike spatial diversity systems, with their two conventional antenna bodies, polarization diversity antennas use only one compact antenna packagea configuration that gives you significant savings on space and tower rental costs. Polarization diversity antennas work best in urban environments where space is at a premium and towers are not readily available or big enough to accommodate two widely spaced antennas. Their effective camouflage also helps speed zoning approvals, which mean sites generate revenue more quickly than spatial diversity systems. Cross-polarization: Keeping the signals separate If using orthogonally polarized antennas with one horizontally polarized and one vertically polarized antenna, the vertically polarized antenna generally maintains a stronger received signal level than the horizontally polarized antenna does by a significant amount. This is due to the fact that received signals at a base station antenna tend to be elliptically polarized in a way that more closely resembles vertical polarization than horizontal polarization. In order to have more equality in received signal levels and improve coverage in urban environmentssome polarization diversity antennas feature an orthogonal polarization of +/- 45 degrees. One of the two antennas under the radome slants 45 degrees to the left, while the other slants 45 degrees to the right (in polarization). A polarization diversity antennas cross-polar discrimination measurement is critical, because thats what helps ensure the peak diversity gain performance out of the entire system. Cross polar discrimination is the difference between the power received from a copolarized transmit antenna and a cross-polarized transmit antenna. In other words, if our receive antenna is vertically polarized, and we measure gain at a given angle (such as boresight or zero) while using another vertically polarized antenna to transmit toward it, then we change the transmit antenna to a horizontally polarized antenna at the same location, the difference in the two received signal levels would be the cross polar discrimination. Higher cross-polar discrimination means better system diversity gain if all other factors remain the same. If a dual polarized antenna has a low cross-polarization discrimination, the improvement to the system will be low since the two antennas will not complement each others performance. While a cross-polarization discrimination of 20 dB is ideal, 15 dB is typical. In addition, cross-polar discrimination measurements should cover an entire 120-degree azimuth sector, not just the boresight (straight ahead at 0 degrees). While the latter is the best case cross-polar discrimination, the former ensures proper performance throughout an entire sector.

PQRthe worst case performance Since poor cross-polar discrimination decrease the system diversity gain performance, the Telecommunications Industry Association is creating a definition for the term polarization quality ratio, which will be used to give us the worst case polarization discrimination, or cross-polar discrimination off-boresight. The new TIA PQR standard will take cross-polar discrimination and make it more uniformly defined and useful in a practical sense by defining the worst case value for the sector which will be used. While crosspolarization discrimination may vary across the sector, PQR gives you the bottom line on what to expect . PQR should be an important measurement in polarization diversity antennas. Most antenna manufacturers already measure the patterns and should have the raw data to calculate PQR, which will start showing up in antenna specifications listed in vendor catalogs after the definition has been approved. Measuring PQR. The TIA measurement requires two radiation patterns with the source antenna oriented at two orthogonal polarizations, co-polar and cross-polar to the nominal polarization. The same two source polarizations are used for both antenna ports , resulting in four patterns. For example, radiation patterns of the + 45 degrees port are measured against the source antenna oriented at + 45 degrees, then again at 45 degrees. These same radiation pattern measurements are repeated for the 45 degrees port. For both ports, the PQR is the worst case cross-polar discrimination in the sector for either of the two antennas contained in our orthogonally polarized antenna. For a 120-degree sector, the PQR of 10 to 15 dB may be typical. Of course, the higher the number, the better. Emerging U.S. antenna standards The TIA PQR standards is part of a push toward standardization of antenna specifications in the United States. TIA working groups are also developing standards for other antenna measurements, such as gain, beamwidth, front-to-back ratio, port-to-port isolation and pattern tracking. Agreement on definitions and measurements will eliminate confusion resulting from non-uniform, conflicting specification standards. As a long-time manufacturer of top quality antennas, Allgon supports the move toward increased standardization. While a common terminology will help the entire industry, the ultimate beneficiary is you, the carrier. Get to know the benefits of polarization diversity antennas and the PQR standard. It just might result in as much as 5 dB network performance improvement, which could extend your coverage by half a mile in the most densely populated urban areas according to some link budget programs. And thats something your subscribers will definitely appreciate. For more information on polarization diversity antennas and the PQR standard, contact Allgon at 888ALLGON1 or